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Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2012;123:152-66; discussion 166.

A new stem cell biology: the continuum and microvesicles.

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Providence, RI.


The hierarchical models of stem cell biology have been based on work first demonstrating pluripotental spleen-colony-forming units, then showing progenitors with many differentiation fates assayed in in vitro culture; there followed the definition and separation of "stem cells" using monoclonal antibodies to surface epitopes and fluorescent-activated cell characterization and sorting (FACS). These studies led to an elegant model of stem cell biology in which primitive dormant G0 stem cells with tremendous proliferative and differentiative potential gave rise to progressively more restricted and differentiated classes of stem/progenitor cells, and finally differentiated marrow hematopoietic cells. The holy grail of hematopoietic stem cell biology became the purification of the stem cell and the clonal definition of this cell. Most recently, the long-term repopulating hematopoietic stem cell (LT-HSC) has been believed to be a lineage negative sca-1+C-kit+ Flk3- and CD150+ cell. However, a series of studies over the past 10 years has indicated that murine marrow stem cells continuously change phenotype with cell cycle passage. We present here studies using tritiated thymidine suicide and pyronin-Hoechst FACS separations indicating that the murine hematopoietic stem cell is a cycling cell. This would indicate that the hematopoietic stem cell must be continuously changing in phenotype and, thus, could not be purified. The extant data indicate that murine marrow stem cells are continually transiting cell cycle and that the purification has discarded these cycling cells. Further in vivo BrdU studies indicate that the "quiescent" LT-HSC in G0 rapidly transits cycle. Further complexity of the marrow stem cell system is indicated by studies on cell-derived microvesicles showing that they enter marrow cells and transcriptionally alter their cell fate and phenotype. Thus, the stem cell model is a model of continuing changing potential tied to cell cycle and microvesicle exposure. The challenge of the future is to define the stem cell population, not purify the stem cell. We are at the beginning of elucidation of quantum stemomics.

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